Digg has been performing oddly and quite different than what I expect in Google and we think we have the beginning of why
Up until this last month Digg has produced pretty predictable results in Google search. 50 Diggs and you are in Google websearch for both the Digg post and your blog post. 100 Diggs and you usually get to the top of Google niche keyword results. Build a few organic links and you stay there. Pretty simple.
Lately the Digg post has not been showing up in Google results hardly at all. Not even in Blogsearch. Nada, a total no show. After beating my head on my computer for the last four weeks I think I have the solution. I have come to believe that Google is evaluating Digg posts differently than other social bookmarking sites. Differently maybe a little strong and there are so many variables it is hard to nail down exactally, but something has changed. It could also be that Google was tweaking it’s algo with the PageRank update this past two weeks. It is impossible to tell.
Either way I have some Digg SEO tweaks that definitely produce better results.
Digg SEO case study #1
Chris Shouse, the owner of the parent blog post in this case study owns a copy of my Wickedly Evil Social Marketing ebook and followed everything I advise, step by step.
Chris Shouse handled this Digg submission, totally independent of any input from me. I have written the case study here and had no advisory or helping hand. If fact I did not even know this had occurred until Chris Shouse called me to report that she was immediately ranked top ten under the term she had selected in Google.
On October 2nd, she had someone else submit the item to Digg. As I have said many times, if possible get someone else to submit your own blog posts to social bookmarking. The Digg item was then shouted to 48 mutual friends by the submitter.
This would be the first time the submitter has Dugg an item from this subdomain so there is no history of past submissions for Google to find.
The keyword phrase targeted was “baggage theft” and was used properly both in the title of the blog post and the submission to Digg. However, the phrase was not used in the Digg description. I believe it would have done better if it had. You can ease this mistake by writing a synopsis opening paragraph in your blog post at the very top and if it is well written many times it will get used as the description in a social bookmarking post.
Baggage theft is a lightly searched / niche term that only returns about 50 searches a year in the Google keyword tool. However if your site is about travel tips, this is a great niche keyword.
Be sure to search your keyword terms for traffic in the Google AdWords tool before you publish the blog post. It is up to you whether you want to target a heavily searched term of a niche term. Obviously niche terms are more easily dominated with social bookmarking.
The Digg post pulled 69 Diggs and got 8 comments and not just comments, comments that were voted positively. I have come to believe that a comment is as powerful as a Digg at times.
The parent blog post got 6 comments and the blog theme uses the title of the blog post repeating the title tag. Looks like a good strategy to me.
I nofollowed these links to the Digg post and the blog in an effort not to alter Google results.
The google results page is dominated by heavy hitters. It is important to note the PageRank is taken from my toolbar and the links are both internal and external as reported by Yahoo.
#1 foxnews.com, post is PR2, 8 links.
#2 http://www.smartertravel.com/ post is PR2, 7 links.
#3 http://www.ajc.com/ post is PR4, 32 links.
#4 http://blogs.wsj.com/ post is PR3, 55 links.
#5 http://www.cbsnews.com/ post is PR3, 71 links.
#6 http://www.thepittsburghchannel.com/ post is PR0, 0 links.
#7 http://blog.jonudell.net/ post is PR4, 104 links.
#8 http://query.nytimes.com/ post is PR3, 0 links. (may have been due to the dynamic URL)
#9 http://www.onenewsnow.com/ post is PR greyed out, 0 links.
#10 http://www.realtown.com/chrisshouse/blog/ PR greyed out, 0 links. (this may be due to the newness of the post)
Our case study blog post is this last one, #10.
Note that the sites on page two of this search term in Google mostly had PR in the toolbar and incoming links.
Ok, we have established that the blog post got here through the Digg post. Let’s take that as true. I have returned the same results 100’s of times and while neither Google or Yahoo returns Digg posts as a link in a link: search, we know that social bookmarking votes are seen as a positive link indicator in Google.
What happened here
The Digg post is at #9 and the blog post is at #8 two days after it was submitted.
Today the Digg post is gone, which is how it usually works and the blog post is now at #10. It will probably slip if some organic links are not created. Chris could even write another blog post and link back to the first. That would even bolster it a bit.
If the Digg post is continuing to appear and the blog post is slipping down Google results you have done something wrong. Google is not passing on relevance to your blog post and holding it at the Digg post. We have seen this may times in the last month. We are not going to cover this here because it is too lengthy and not what this case study is about.
Chris’s post is the last one on page one at #10. Not bad for only 69 Diggs and what you can expect if you handle your Digg posts the way I advise as Chris did. You are not out to spam Digg for a few worthless links. You are there to bring interesting information and news to others of like interests. If you do not do that then you are just spamming Digg.
Remember that you need 50 to 100 Diggs to be seen as relevant to Google.
The Bottom line
So for a few minutes work and some strategic alliances built over time you can get immediate results in niche terms that convert to sales in Google. Most bloggers complain that social bookmarking traffic does not convert to sales.
What DOES convert is the keywords that you target in Google and the conversions come from motivated buyers searching for what you sell in Google. Don’t focus on the drill (Digg), focus on the hole (Google). Digg is a tool and Google is where it drills the hole. It is white hat and not a spam technique in Google’s eyes. If the article only has the intent of getting Diggs and appearing highly in Google, then it is spam. You social bookmarking articles must be of quality and able to stand alone.
In the beginning I mentioned that Digg has not been performing the way we expect but this one did exactly what we have seen in Google for the last year.
However there is one factor that we are generating some far deeper reports on and bringing some SEO professionals in for comment. We have found in this Digg post the reasons that many Digg submissions have been performing poorly. Google, I believe is playing a little game with Digg since it is so highly gamed and spammed. You just need to adjust your Digg submissions slightly.
I complete this case study as part of my new social marketing eBook, version 3.0 of Wickedly Evil Social Marketing Tactics. Available now. Your comments and questions are VERY welcome below just by clicking the comments link on the lower right.